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University of Texas at Austin

Robert De Niro:

A Preliminary Inventory of His Papers at the Harry Ransom Center

Creator: De Niro, Robert, 1943-
Title: Robert De Niro Papers
Dates: 1888-2021 (bulk 1960s-2021)
Extent: 439 boxes, 151 oversize boxes (osb) (184.38 linear feet), 153 oversize folders (osf), 610 bound volumes (bv), and 564 electronic files (4 GB)
Abstract: The Robert De Niro Papers include scripts plus related production, publicity, and research materials for over one hundred films documenting De Niro's career from the 1968 film Greetings through Killers of the Flower Moon, released in 2023. A smaller amount of material documents his stage and television work. There are also files on projects considered, De Niro’s early career, and other career-related materials.
Call Number: Film Collection FI-05100
Language: English and Italian, with printed materials in Arabic, Flemish, French, German, Japanese, Persian, Polish, Portuguese, Spanish, and Russian.
Access: Open for research. Researchers must create an online Research Account and agree to the Materials Use Policy before using archival materials. Please note: Polaroids in box 176 require 24 hours advance notice for access. Some materials are restricted and may only be paged with the approval of the Ransom Center’s Film Curator. To request access to electronic files, please email Reference. Special Handling Instructions: Most of the scripts in this collection have been left in an unaltered or minimally processed state to provide the reader with the look and feel of the original as De Niro used it. When handling unbound scripts, or scripts with inserted materials, users are asked to be extremely careful in retaining the original order of the material. Script pages folded length-wise by De Niro are likewise to remain folded in keeping with original order. Potentially harmful or damaging materials such as paperclips, self-adhesive "sticky" notes, metal brads, and clasps were removed during physical processing. Processing notes were inserted where paperclips and sticky notes were removed. In many cases paper-clipped sections were placed in white paper sleeves. Some surrogate preservation photocopies were substituted for the original items, such as faxes. The original faxes have been retained with the photocopies, although in time the faxed pages will fade beyond recognition.
The production and research materials contain a number of items from which personal information has been redacted or restricted to protect an individual's privacy. Examples are social security, telephone, and account numbers; the names of medical patients, military personnel, and prisoners; and personnel records. The originals were removed and some have been replaced with redacted photocopies.
Use Policies: Ransom Center collections may contain material with sensitive or confidential information that is protected under federal or state right to privacy laws and regulations. Researchers are advised that the disclosure of certain information pertaining to identifiable living individuals represented in the collections without the consent of those individuals may have legal ramifications (e.g., a cause of action under common law for invasion of privacy may arise if facts concerning an individual's private life are published that would be deemed highly offensive to a reasonable person) for which the Ransom Center and The University of Texas at Austin assume no responsibility.
Restrictions on Use: Authorization for publication is given on behalf of the University of Texas as the owner of the collection and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder which must be obtained by the researcher. For more information please see the Ransom Center's Open Access and Use Policies. Certain restrictions apply to the use of electronic files. Researchers must agree to the Materials Use Policy for Electronic Files before accessing them. Original computer disks and forensic disk images are restricted. Copying electronic files, including screenshots and printouts, is not permitted.

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation Harry Ransom Center, The University of Texas at Austin. Robert De Niro Papers (Film Collection FI-05100).
Acquisition: Gift, 2006-2023 (G12588, 2009-07-005-G, 2011-08-012-G, 2012-07-010-G, 2014-04-015-G, 2016-08-007-G, 2023-02-002-G, 2023.0027)
Processed by: Liz Murray, Katherine Mosley, and Bob Taylor, 2008; Ancelyn Krivak, 2012, 2018, 2023, 2024. Born digital materials processed, arranged, and described by Chance Adams, Brenna Edwards, and Ancelyn Krivak, 2015-2023.

Harry Ransom Center, The University of Texas at Austin

Scope and Contents

Scope and Contents

The extraordinary breadth of actor, director, and producer Robert De Niro's cinematic career from the 1960s through 2020 is reflected in his collection of papers, film, movie props, and costumes at the Ransom Center. De Niro is widely regarded as one of the greatest actors of his generation and a key figure in "The New Hollywood," an artistic renaissance that began in the late 1960s. He appeared in many of the period's key films: Taxi Driver (1976), Raging Bull (1980), The Godfather: Part II (1974), and The Deer Hunter (1978). De Niro has produced more than two dozen films since the late 1980s and directed A Bronx Tale (1993) and The Good Shepherd (2006).
The papers described in this finding aid include De Niro's heavily-annotated scripts and correspondence, stage play and photographic materials from his early career, make-up and wardrobe photographs, wardrobe continuity books, costume designs, and posters, as well as extensive production, publicity, and research materials. The collection focuses exclusively on De Niro's professional career: while some congratulatory correspondence and exchanges with his colleagues provide insight into the personal side of his working relationships, De Niro's private life remains private. The papers are arranged in five series: I. Films, 1888-2021; II. Plays, circa 1961-2016; III. Television, 1970-2018; IV. Projects, 1899-2012; and V. Early Career and Career-Related, 1946-2018.
Most of the papers are located in the first series, Films, which includes scripts plus related production, publicity, and research materials for over one hundred films documenting De Niro's career from the 1968 film Greetings through Killers of the Flower Moon, released in 2023. While the type and amount of material present varies from film to film, there is not only abundant evidence of De Niro's rigorous preparation for his acting roles from the large amounts of research material present and his copious notations in scripts, but also insight into the collaborative nature of his work with a variety of noted writers, directors, actors, and other film artists. The evolution of many screenplays can also be traced, often from the original source material through numerous drafts to the final shooting script. The close attention paid to the details of wardrobe, make-up, and hairstyle design and continuity is also evident and particularly well-represented in the production materials.
Series II. Plays contains scripts, photographs, and production and publicity materials from stage productions, ranging from De Niro’s early appearances on stage as an actor to the musical adaptation of A Bronx Tale, which he co-directed on Broadway in 2016. Series III. Television consists of scripts and production and research materials for television productions De Niro acted in or produced, including appearances on individual episodes of shows such as Saturday Night Live and television movies like The Wizard of Lies (2017), a Home Box Office (HBO) production.
Series IV. Projects, includes plays, screenplays, and television scripts received, reviewed, or considered. These productions were either never realized or were completed without the involvement of De Niro. The majority of the works originate from writers and directors with whom De Niro has long been closely associated and include scripts for such notable films as Apocalypse Now, The Aviator, A Bridge Too Far, Clockers, Gangs of New York, Glengarry Glen Ross, The Godfather: Part III, Hoffa, The Last Temptation of Christ, Silence, and Weeds. This series also includes screenplays and research materials for an unrealized film project that De Niro was to direct, tentatively titled "Finn." Some of the research materials collected for this project were later used for The Good Shepherd.
Series V., Early Career and Career-Related, contains articles about De Niro, collected materials, early contracts, correspondence, and photographs as well as materials related to awards, film festivals, public appearances, and tributes. Of special note are photographs, résumés, contracts, programs, and reviews documenting De Niro’s student work and early stage and film roles. Much of the correspondence in the collection is located in this series, often congratulatory in nature or related to shared projects. Correspondents include friends and industry colleagues, such as Kenneth Branagh, Michael Cimino, Francis Ford Coppola, Jonathan Demme, Ron Howard, Roland Joffé, Harvey Keitel, George Lucas, David Mamet, Al Pacino, Harold Pinter, Martin Scorsese, Steven Spielberg, Lee Strasberg, Jack Valenti, and Harvey Weinstein, among others. A complete index of all correspondent names in this series is included in this finding aid.
Additions to the original accession were processed and added to the inventory in 2012, 2018, 2023, and 2024. Electronic files were added to the inventory in 2022 and 2023.

Series Descriptions

Series I. Films, 1888-2021
The bulk of the De Niro Papers are located in this series and comprise materials from over one hundred films dating from De Niro's 1968 film Greetings through Killers of the Flower Moon, released in 2023. Materials in this series are arranged alphabetically by film title, and items for each film are consistently arranged in this order: screenplays first, followed by production, publicity, and research materials.
Screenplays are heavily represented in the collection and are present for all of De Niro's acting roles. The number of screenplays present for each film varies from film to film, but most are represented by multiple versions. For example, Meet the Fockers has thirty-five scripts written steadily over the course of three years, while Raging Bull has twenty scripts that evolved intermittently from conception to completion over a span of about ten years.
Modern screenplays are notorious for their variant titles, multiple writers, and numerous re-writes, and the De Niro scripts are no exception. Working with information provided on the title pages and dated revisions, multiple scripts for individual films have been arranged in their probable order of creation, although undated scripts and inserted revisions make definitive sequencing difficult. The films Analyze This and Meet the Fockers provide good examples of a complex array of scripts with more than a dozen writers and derivative drafts.
Descriptions of individual scripts in the following folder list are often limited to the date of the original script and, for subsequent revisions, the date last revised. Variant titles, draft numbers or other draft identifications (e.g., "final shooting script"), and writer names are also included if present. The descriptions frequently also include either "with RDN notes" or "no RDN notes." De Niro's handwritten annotation of scripts is a hallmark of his working method; rendered in ink, these annotations are primarily dialogue and script changes and notes regarding his role. Later scripts are often annotated on the title page with the date De Niro read the script and/or discussed it with the screenwriter.
Shooting scripts are present for most of the films. In most cases, the shooting scripts designated in the finding aid are the ones De Niro used during filming. They are heavily annotated with De Niro's handwritten notes and are often bound in three-ring binders full of inserted script revisions and production materials. The Raging Bull shooting script contained a particularly large amount of inserted material; in order to preserve it and also retain its original order, a facsimile copy was created and is available for research use. The original script is restricted from access and may be viewed only with the permission of the Ransom Center’s Film Curator.
Production materials
The production materials in the De Niro Papers reflect the myriad tasks involved in film-making. While nearly all the De Niro films contain some production materials, their type and quantity varies from film to film. The papers contain a large volume of production materials for the two films De Niro directed, A Bronx Tale and The Good Shepherd, and a smaller selection of production materials from other films. Among the types of items present are ADR (automated dialogue replacement) sheets, call sheets, casting lists and résumés, contact and crew lists, dialogue notes, one-liner and shooting schedules, continuity and make-up photographs, production reports, production stills, recruited audience preview reports, storyboards, De Niro's handwritten notes, production-related memos and correspondence, congratulatory correspondence, and wardrobe continuity and inventory lists. Several films also include original costume, tattoo, and set designs, as well as location photography.
Photographs dominate the production materials in terms of sheer volume and include hair/make-up, wardrobe, and production stills. The prints are largely in 4x6-inch and Polaroid formats, but also include 8x10-inch and oversize. Prints have been arranged by roll number and sleeved in frame order. Frame order is especially critical for documenting make-up application, as evidenced by more than 3,000 prints for Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. For this film, De Niro endured a full-body plaster cast used to create a body suit that transformed him into "The Creature." Shot by shot, the photographs document the painstaking 16-hour make-up sessions, capturing the intricate application of face, hair, and body prosthetics in incredible detail. The Polaroids are primarily make-up and wardrobe continuity prints and are often marked with scene numbers and other pertinent information. In some cases, metal rings or safety pins were used for portability on the set and to retain scene sequence. For the film Awakenings, 135 continuity Polaroids on a single ring record the state of De Niro's hair and beard for each scene, to guarantee continuity over multiple takes and reshoots.
Wardrobe continuity material is present for more than three dozen films, ranging from a few sheets for some films to the wardrobe continuity book for The Irishman, comprised of over two hundred pages. Typically, wardrobe items were listed in detail on specially-formatted sheets and supplemented with Polaroids showing De Niro in costume, as well as individual items such as shoes and jewelry. Because overlapping Polaroids were often taped onto the wardrobe sheets and presented a handling problem, facsimiles were made of some of the wardrobe continuity material in the collection.
Publicity materials
This category of film material is the least prevalent in this series, and the amount and type varies from film to film. Publicity materials include advertising graphics and layouts, articles and reviews, correspondence and memos, marketing and promotional materials, posters, premiere programs and tickets, press kits, press junket itineraries, press releases, publicity and studio stills, screening cards and invitations, and tour information. Three cardboard cutout standees of De Niro in costume created to promote The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle, The King of Comedy, and The Mission were transferred to the Costume and Personal Effects Department at the Ransom Center and are cataloged in the Ransom Center’s Objects and Visual Materials database.
Research materials
De Niro is well known for thoroughly researching and preparing for his acting roles. In addition to articles, pamphlets, chapter sections, and other printed material, the collection includes 311 books used for research on topics ranging from mobsters and tattoos to Jesuits and baseball. For each film, the books are arranged by author and title within the research section and each book is cataloged with a bv (bound volume) number. Some of these books are inscribed to De Niro and De Niro also annotated many of the volumes with handwritten notes. Many of the books originally contained loose items; these items have been withdrawn and filed together. The new location of each withdrawn item is indicated in the folder list, and correspondence found inside bound volumes is listed in the Index of Selected Correspondents included in this finding aid. Research material for Cape Fear, The Good Shepherd, and The Mission is particularly extensive.
Some correspondence and production memoranda are scattered throughout Series I. and selected correspondents appear in the Index of Selected Correspondents included in this finding aid.
Series II. Plays, circa 1961-2016
A smaller volume of work in this series documents De Niro’s work on stage as actor, producer, and director. Arranged alphabetically by production title, the material includes annotated scripts, production photographs, programs, and publicity materials from productions De Niro acted in, including early roles in plays such as The Boor, Generation, Glamour, Glory & Gold, Kool Aid, One Night Stands of a Noisy Passenger, Tchin-Tchin, and The World of Günter Grass as well as De Niro’s starring role on Broadway in Reinaldo Povod’s Cuba and His Teddy Bear (1986). Also in this series are materials related to theatrical productions co-produced (We Will Rock You, 2002) and co-directed (A Bronx Tale: The Musical, 2016) by De Niro. Materials from A Bronx Tale: The Musical are particularly extensive, with many annotated drafts of the script by Chazz Palminteri and production materials including casting lists, calendars, and timelines.
Series III. Television, 1970-2018
This series consists of scripts, photographs, and production and research materials from television productions De Niro appeared in or produced, arranged alphabetically by title. These include scripts for individual episodes of series De Niro guest starred on, from an early appearance on the soap opera Search for Tomorrow in 1970 to his cameo appearances playing Robert Mueller on Saturday Night Live in 2018. Materials from The Wizard of Lies, directed by Barry Levinson for Home Box Office (HBO) (2017), are also filed in this series, and include a significant volume of research materials collected by De Niro for his role as Bernie Madoff in that film.
Series IV. Projects, 1899-2012
Throughout De Niro's long career, a great quantity of script material has come his way for consideration. The plays, screenplays, and television scripts in this series are some of the projects that held De Niro's interest although, for a variety of reasons, his involvement remained limited. The projects material has been arranged alphabetically by title. The majority of works include writers and directors with whom De Niro has long been closely associated, such as Michael Cimino, Francis Ford Coppola, Brian De Palma, George Gallo, Michael V. Gazzo, William Goldman, Elia Kazan, Robert Kuhn, David Mamet, Michael Powell, Richard Price, Paul Schrader, Martin Scorsese, and David Seltzer. Notable film projects in this series include Apocalypse Now, The Aviator, A Bridge Too Far, Clockers, Gangs of New York, Glengarry Glen Ross, The Godfather: Part III, Hoffa, The Last Temptation of Christ, Silence, and Weeds. Series II also contains a significant volume of screenplays and research materials for an unrealized film project that De Niro was to direct, tentatively titled "Finn." Some of the research materials collected for this project were later used for The Good Shepherd. Approximately thirty of the bound volumes collected as research for "Finn" are restricted from access; patrons with a research interest in any volumes listed as restricted in the finding aid can contact the Ransom Center’s Film Curator for more information. Duplicates of bound volumes collected for research were removed from the collection.
Series V. Early Career and Career-Related, 1946-2018
This series contains articles about De Niro, award-related materials, books retained for general research and received as gifts, correspondence, photographs, and posters. Also included are materials from film festivals, public appearances, tributes, and film series; and material that documents De Niro’s early career, including acting class materials, head shots, resumes, contracts, and reviews.
Much of the correspondence in the collection is located in this series, often congratulatory in nature or related to shared projects. Correspondents include friends and industry colleagues, such as Giorgio Armani, Lauren Bacall, Robert Bolt, Kenneth Branagh, Ellen Burstyn, Michael Cimino, Francis Ford Coppola, Jonathan Demme, Barry Diller, Richard Dreyfuss, Dominick Dunne, Jane Fonda, Whoopi Goldberg, Tom Hayden, Israel Horovitz, Ron Howard, Roland Joffé, Garson Kanin, Elia Kazan, Harvey Keitel, John F. Kennedy, Jr., Martin Landau, George Lucas, David Mamet, Marsha Mason, Al Pacino, Joseph Papp, Jane Pauley, Harold Pinter, Richard Pryor, Cliff Robertson, Oliver Sacks, Martin Scorsese, Gene Shalit, Steven Spielberg, Sharon Stone, Lee Strasberg, Emma Thompson, Jack Valenti, Harvey Weinstein, Robin Williams, Henry Winkler, Shelley Winters, and Franco Zeffirelli, among others. An index of all correspondent names in this series is included in this finding aid.
Early career-related materials include many photographs from the early days of De Niro's career. De Niro created his own résumé head shots, the earliest of which lists his acting experience through 1963. This series of photographs ends in the early 1970s with the appearance of studio publicity stills for films such as Bloody Mama and Mean Streets. The résumés attached to many of the head shots, some with four different images per print, provide valuable information regarding De Niro's stage performances that date from his days in training with The Dramatic Workshop, Luther James Studio, Stella Adler Theatre Studio, and Raphael Kelly. These résumés include the parts he played in repertory theater, tours, commercials, performances at Hunter College and Sarah Lawrence College, the off-Broadway shows, and early films including Greetings and The Wedding Party. Often play reviews are also attached to the head shots. Programs and production photographs for many of these early plays are filed by title in Series II.
The series also contains materials from events De Niro attended, including the Academy Awards, Cannes Film Festival, and many other awards ceremonies, film festivals, and tributes; clippings of articles and other publicity materials; photographs of De Niro, ranging from informal snapshots to studio portraits; and collected materials, including books, photographs, programs, and posters. De Niro’s commercial and advertising work is also documented in this series, with scripts, clippings, and artwork from commercials and print advertisements spanning his career from 1967 to 2018.

Related Material

The Stella Adler, David Mamet, and Tom Stoppard collections at the Ransom Center contain additional De Niro-related material.

Separated Material

De Niro's costumes, digital media, film props, moving images, personal effects, moving image recordings, and sound recordings are housed in related departments within the Ransom Center. Commercial sound and moving image recordings and audiobooks, collected for research for A Bronx Tale, The Good Shepherd, and other films, were removed from the collection. A list of the recordings that were removed is available in Folder 170.9.

Container List

Oversize boxes Container 171-230, 328-379, 516-537, 540, 572-586   
Request entire Container 171-230, 328-379, 516-537, 540, 572-586